“Therein lies the uneasy truth: In a major international crisis, one of the prime channels of communication and news for individuals, media outlets, and governments alike is a 2-year-old start-up in San Francisco with 50 employees, no discernible business model, a history of technical instability, and a misinformation-related lawsuit on the table. This is a problem.”—Caroline McCarthy, CNET: With Iran crisis, Twitter’s youth is over (via peterfeld)
“I have noticed that it’s of no great use telling myself, when I go online, that I should muster my willpower against the sirens of amusement, distraction, and curiosity. I do better at not spending too much time at my computer if I remind myself how comparatively shallow and irregular my enjoyment of the internet is. The truth is that we are often bored to death by what we find online—but this is boredom on the installment plan, one click a time, and therefore imperceptible. And if it is worth noticing your boredom—not for the sake of your prose style or your attention span, but simply for the sake of your enjoyment of life—it is for the same reason worth recognizing the general sensuous poverty of online experience. The sound quality of the audio clips is poor, as is the resolution of the video clips. The prose (in addition to being musically and intellectually inferior to what is available in any number of ready-to-hand books) appears as pixels on plastic rather than ink on paper, and is much less pleasing to the eye. My buttocks and my back are also less than happy when I’m online; it’s much nicer reading in bed.”
langer: The custom among thoughtful literary types is generally to respond to the oppressive ephemerality of the internet with a dismissive and almost reactionary nostalgia. Yet Kunkel strikes the perfect balance between calling out the internet for its cheap timeliness and, as in the passage below, detecting some kernel of value in online production:
So I am glad, honestly, to have the old world of print and film supplemented by the new world of text and video. And I’m eager to stick up for casual and often vulgar online writing and culture as long as I’m not forced to defend them in grandiose terms. The internet often gratifies my curiosity and sense of humor, no small thing but nothing to confuse with whatever it is in me—something far more deeply interfused—that is gratified by poetry, philosophy, history, modes of writing that hardly exist online. What are the native species of internet prose? Op-eds, diary entries, aperçus, allusions, screeds, and scrawls of graffiti—worthy forms but marginal and perishable like little nodding flowers along a river. It is merely annoying when an internet booster like Henry Jenkins claims that various “participatory” phenomena—the “knowledge communities” surrounding reality TV shows, the fan fiction, the specimens of “Photoshop for democracy”—amount to some sort of popular seizure of the means of cultural production: “If we are to make this culture our own, render it legible, and make it into a new platform for our needs and conversations today, we must find a way to cut, paste, and remix present culture.” In election years, I like a pointed YouTube parody of a political ad as much as the next man, but parody and what the Situationists called détournement are fundamentally parasitic forms. If you want to make a culture your own, you have to make your own culture, and not just repurpose the productions of people with more capital (or contribute marginalia to news stories).